BOSTON - Paul Pierce put together his first quality game of the second half, scoring 27 while dishing out eight assists as the Boston Celtics sliced through the New Jersey Nets, winning 107-94 on Friday night at TD Garden.
"I think we are moving the ball a lot better and hopefully hitting our stride right here at home," said Pierce, helped Boston win its third game in a row. "We are playing better basketball. We have a huge West coast trip coming up for us in the next couple weeks, so it's important for us to get as many wins as we can under out belt before we hit the road."
Pierce helped Boston (18-17) get off to a fast start, scoring nine points in the opening quarter as the C's led 29-20 after one. The hot-handed C's made five of their first seven shots and used a 15-4 lead to grab a 16-7 lead near the seven minute mark, and each team scored 13 points a piece to close out the quarter.
The Celtics tried to force the offense through Keyon Dooling in the early stages of the second quarter, but he missed three consecutive jumpers beyond the arc. New Jersey used the opportunity to climb back into the game and trailed 34-30 with 7:02 before halftime. Led by a couple of dunks from Mickael Pietrus, who started in place of a sick Ray Allen, the Celts went on a 14-0 run to take a commanding 48-30 lead, and they would never look back.
"Pietrus has started some games for us before and he's been spectacular," Pierce said of Pietrus. "He is able to come off the bench and give us great minutes for his defensive and shooting ability."
Boston led by as many as 21 points late in the second half and kept up the pace in the third quarter, although the Nets went on a small run to make it an 85-71 game late in the third, but they couldn't sustain the pace.
Kevin Garnett followed up his 25-point, 10-rebound game on Wednesday with another dandy, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had a double-double with 14 points and 13 assists and Mickael Pietrus scored 11 off the bench for Boston.
Brook Lopez, fresh off a scorching 38-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, played well and had 28 points and three boards. Deron Williams, the Nets' leading scorer, had 12 points and eight assists, MarShon Brooks added 11 points and ex-Celtic reserve Gerald Green scored 11 points in his return to Boston.
"I think we stomped out the snake," Rondo said about Williams. "He came out and got 10 points in the first quarter, he was really aggressive. Our bigs did a great job as far as helping me try to slow him down."
The Celtics are off on Saturday as they prepare for all the Linsanity as Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks come to town on Sunday afternoon.